Spotify’s Discover feature suggested I listen to Television’s Marquee Moon. So, I listened to Television’s Marquee Moon.
The opening jangled seconds of Television had me expecting one thing, but when the vocals and noodling second guitar of See No Evil kicked in, it turned out to be another. There are hints of the classic, arena rock of the 70s, but there’s a slight stripped back, punk rock vibe to keep it from ever getting too over the top. Combined with Venus, the opening double make it obvious how important guitars are to the Television sound. Setting things up, then letting everything else form around them.
With Friction, I’m finding it really hard to nail down the Television sound. Some aspects of it are so a part of their late 70s time, but there’s some other unique stuff going on as well. It’s a bit bluesy, but more intricate than that. It’s a bit punk, but more precise than that. It’s a bit psychedelic, but more disciplined and to the point than that. It really is a great mix off all those things, with some straight up guitar shredding thrown in for good measure.
The 10 minute title track mixes things up again, by being the simplest and most straight forward, yet sustaining its extended running length by never getting boring or repetitive. I guess it’s just proof that a guitar solo can never be too long, as long as it’s sufficiently badass (ie. the Freebird principle).
As I roll into the second half of Marquee Moon, I realise something. This is a band I have heard of a lot, this is an album I have heard of a lot, but I haven’t recognised a single song so far. Usually, at the very least, when I dive into something like this, there’ll be one or two tracks that I knew before, I just didn’t know what they were called or who played them. But I’ve only got a few tracks left here, and so far, they’ve all been totally fresh to my ears.
Slowed down and approaching tender, the piano filled Guiding Light is the biggest curveball on Marquee Moon, and while it’s nowhere near my favourite song on the record, it’s a nice changeup at just the right time. A weird twist on 50s doo-wop, with the doo-wop, Prove It is another late album anomaly sounding absolutely nothing like anything else before it.
Television and Marquee Moon are a pleasant surprise. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t all of a sudden have the urge to binge on their entire discography, but I never once felt bored or frustrated by spending 25 minutes with this album. It’s a 70s sound that’s familiar enough to not be jarring or alienating. But at the same time, it’s never derivative or predictable either.